Today @NCCapitol (July 11): School buildings, Jordan Lake and abortion on today's agenda
Posted July 11, 2013
Updated July 12, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, July 11. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
DRIVING THE DAY: There are plenty of attention grabbing bills on the legislative calendars today, but a proposal to heavily regulate abortion clinics will almost certainly make the biggest headlines.
At about 8:35 a.m. Wednesday, Gov. Pat McCrory said he would veto the version of an abortion bill passed by the Senate.
Opponents again cry foul over swift passage of abortion bill "Unless significant changes and clarifications are made addressing our concerns that were clearly communicated by DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos, Governor Pat McCrory will veto the existing bill, HB 695, if it is passed by the House and Senate," read a statement from McCroy's press office.
Less than two hours later, the House Judiciary Committee had tacked a new abortion bill onto a measure dealing with motorcycle safety, saying that McCrory had approved the changes that morning. The timeline sketched out by Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, suggested that McCrory was talking to House lawmakers even as he was issuing his veto threat.
The new version of the House bill shifts a few lines of the language that was in the Senate bill, clarifying when a doctor has to be in the room for a medical abortion and instructing the Department of Health and Human Services to construct regulations for abortion clinics "not unduly restricting access" to women's health.
Advocates on both sides of the issue said the bill for all practical purposes has the same effect as the Senate measure. Officials with the governor's office and the Department did not return phone calls seeking comment as to whether the House bill overcomes the governor's objections.
The measure, Senate Bill 353, will be on the House floor today. WRAL.com will carry the House session live starting at 11 a.m. Please check the Video Central box on our home page.
Outside the legislature at 11 a.m., women's groups are expected to protest against the bill. Inside the building, House Speaker Thom Tillis has set aside three hours for debate of the measure. And under an agreement that allots Democrats two of those three hours, Democrats have agreed not to use a procedural objection that would keep the bill from traveling to the back to the Senate at the end of today's session. The Senate will have to vote on the bill before sending it to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature or veto.
ALSO IN THE HOUSE: Today's House session could be a long one. In addition to the abortion bill, they also have a measure on their calendar that would limit state and local government's use of eminent domain powers, the ability to force landowners to sell their property to a local government. A similar measure passed the House earlier this year but has not been taken up by the Senate. Now this proposed constitutional amendment has hitched a ride on a bill that sets the fees and penalties for the Wildlife Resources Commission. And House lawmakers are scheduled to deal with a controversial bill that would take the Charlotte Douglas Airport away from the City of Charlotte and turn over operations to a newly created independent authority.
IN THE SENATE: The state Senate has only a handful of bills on its calendar today, including the measure that would force the City of Durham to provide water and sewer to the controversial 751 South development. The Senate has been scheduled to hear that bill twice before this week and has twice delayed consideration.
COMMITTEES: For a full listing of today legislative committees, please see the main @NCCapitol page. Two House Committees will be dealing with bills of particular significance to Wake County and the Triangle today:
House Environment (10 a.m. | 544 LOB): The committee will take up legislation dealing with the cleanup of Jordan Lake. The Triangle-area water supply is plagued by pollution that causes algae blooms and other problems. A Senate version of this bill would have scrapped rules already written to clean up the lake that up-stream communities like Greensboro find particularly onerous. Advocates say they expect to see a House bill that delays implementation of the new rules while trying out new technology to clean up the lake.
House Government (10 a.m. | 643 LOB): Lawmakers are expected to hear about a bill that would shift control of school buildings in Beaufort, Dare, Davie, Guilford, Harnett, Lee, Rockingham, Rowan, and Wake counties from the local school board to the local board of county commissioners. Counties argue that they pay for school buildings so should have responsibility for their upkeep. Local boards of education, including Wake County's, argue that school systems need to have control over the property they use to teach children.
TAX AND BUDGET: As of late Wednesday, legislative leaders said there was no deal on tax reform, despite quietly expressed hopes that lawmakers and the governor could craft a deal this week.
"We're still talking," Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said Wednesday afternoon. He confirmed that top leaders from the House and Senate met with Gov. Pat McCrory at the executive mansion twice Wednesday. He and other leaders express some optimism that the two sides were moving closer together, but nobody was willing to say for sure they would close a deal.
In the mean time, the full chairman of the House and Senate appropriations committees are taking the first steps toward brokering a budget deal that has been long-delayed by the tax talks.
"We're beginning discussion on the broad similarities and differences," said Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake. Although that's a tentative step, it is a sign that budget writers are no longer waiting on tax negotiations in order to move forward.
The fiscal year began July 1, but lawmakers put a 30 day continuing resolution in place to keep government operating until tax and budget deals were done. Given the slow pace of progress on both of those measure, there has been some speculation among legislative observers a second continuing resolution might be in the works. Dollar brushed aside that idea Wednesday.
"I'm not discussing it," he said.
MORE STORIES: Other bills we were following Wednesday included:
DRUG TESTS: The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would require people applying for public assistance to pass a drug test and would require local Department of Social Service offices to conduct criminal background checks on applicants. Senators voted 43-6 in favor of House Bill 392, which now heads back to the House for a final vote on changes to the measure.
PR exec says protests, legislation tarnishing NC image IMAGE: A Wednesday editorial in The New York Times is the latest blow to North Carolina's reputation as a progressive state. The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Fox News also have pointed a harsh spotlight on changes in the state, from cuts to unemployment benefits to the repeal of the Racial Justice Act to the abortion restrictions now under consideration. "I don't think they're headlines that are necessarily good from an economic development standpoint," said Rick French, chairman and chief executive of French/West/Vaughan, a Raleigh public relations agency.
REGULATIONS: A House committee on Wednesday approved a wide-ranging measure to reform state regulations and limit the ability of agencies to adopt new rules in the future. Senate Bill 112 initially covered only environmental regulations, but the House Regulatory Reform Committee amended it to include everything from rules for child care centers to meals at bed-and-breakfast inns to disposition of medical records. House members spent more than half an hour outlining the 32 sections of the new bill.
CHARTERS: The state Senate is rejecting legislation that creates more rules to govern North Carolina's growing number of public charter schools but scraps plans to set up a separate panel to oversee them.